Posts tagged ‘promotion’

October 18, 2016

Grow your online platform with Bloomtask

Michael T. Sheen, founder of Bloomtask and Dandelion Platform Design

Michael T. Sheen, founder of Bloomtask and Dandelion Platform Design

 

Bloomtask is designed for writers and other professionals to grow their online platform in about twenty minutes a day.

Bloomtask is designed for writers and other professionals to grow their online platform in about twenty minutes a day.

Last year, Michael T. Sheen of Dandelion Platform Design dreamed up a fantastic grassroots way to help his clients build an online platform: Bloomtask.

It started with his clients. Even after he provided some training, many of them weren’t growing their platforms.

“Some of them reached out and did things, but the majority of them would not,” Sheen said. “They said it was overwhelming and they didn’t know where to start.”

Sheen got to work. The result was Bloomtask, a task management center specifically built for growing platforms.unnamed-1

“It’s designed to be done in about twenty minutes a day,” he said. “All of the tasks I’ve created after months and months of research. If you do these things, your platform will grow.”

The task center includes tasks built specifically for Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Sheen recommends starting with two or three channels. Channels can be added or deleted as needed, and the lists can be customized.

The pre-built task lists include five simple tasks per day for each social media channel. Some tasks are done daily, some weekly, some monthly or longer than that. Updating social media profiles shows up every six months. Tasks like unfollowing people on Twitter show up much more frequently.

If clients finish the daily list and want to keep working, there’s a button to add more tasks. There’s also a place to build personal task lists. This section can branch out beyond the social media task lists to include writing endeavors, editing projects, and other marketing tasks—even taking out the trash, if clients want to go that far.

Sheen designed the program to be friendly for newbies as well as for professionals who are already building their following. There are over a hundred video tutorials on the site. Many of them can be found in Bloomtasks’ Learning Center.

The Learning Center includes videos for newbies, like how to get started on twitter and Facebook, as well as more advanced marketing methods for these channels. Sheen says this will eventually be the Bloomtask blog, where he will share marketing methods he continues to learn and success stories from his clients.

“As we grow, we’ll add more advanced ideas,” he said. “We’ll do webinars and answer questions like how to make your own graphics. As we learn more things, we’ll add them, and we’ll review new channels as they come up.”

Bloomtasks’ Inspiration Center is a place for clients to take notes. Writers can keep their editorial calendar there. Bloggers can list their post ideas and even develop full posts right on the site, leaving them and coming back to them as needed. Sheen said he anticipates the site will eventually allow users to post directly to their blogs and social media sites.

“It’s something that we’ll continually add to,” he said.

In the achievements section, clients can track the number of followers they have in each channel. Sheen envisions adding fun activities like friendly competitions to help clients continue to grow.

Because work should always be rewarding and fun, that’s why, and Sheen believes that. It shows in his enthusiasm for his work on Bloomtask.

“It’s been a total blast,” he said.

Sheen talked to several people before he found and presented his idea to Sam Ouimette, Bloomtask’s programmer and Sheen’s 50/50 partner in the business.

“He loved it. He’s been working on it for about a year now,” Sheen said. “He’s put in hundreds and hundreds of hours.”

Hours which, apparently, have paid off, even during beta testing. One client grew her twitter platform with 40,000 followers in ten months. Sheen said every client he’s worked with on Bloomtask has had similar results.

The company had a soft launch earlier this year. Sheen planned to announce the full launch with an e-mail blast, but watch for it other places, as well. Bloomtask is designed for any professional who wants to grow an online platform.

It’s affordable, too, even for starving artists and writers. The monthly fee is $14.99, but anyone can try out a month for free.

Link here to get started.

Sam Oimette and Michael T. Sheen, founders of Bloomtask

Sam Oimette and Michael T. Sheen, partners with Bloomtask

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June 17, 2016

Big World Network: Quan and Thompson work to save it, offer hope to ‘People and Dreams’

Meeting Jared Quan and James Thompson for the first time was a quietly impressive experience. Both are soft-spoken, and it wasn’t until five minutes into my conversations with them that I realized they are some of the most dynamic people I’ve ever met.

Besides being a successful marketer, Quan serves on several community boards, building partnerships between local cities and the League of Utah Writers. As president-elect of the League, he planned and facilitated this year’s spring conference. The partnerships he brought to the table resulted in one of the best spring conferences the League has seen.

That’s where I met Thompson. I was looking for a stylus, and he had one.

Several, in fact. As we sat behind the registration table, he told me the styluses he brought were part of his marketing plan, advertising his book. I learned he helped other authors with a company called Big World Network learn how to market their books. I learned that Big World Network published serialized books, and that both he and Quan had published with this company.

“Big World Network is unique,” Quan said later. “It’s serialized, so your content is available immediately to the public. I’ve always loved that. Since it’s a serial, it runs like a television series. You’ve got ‘seasons’ dividing up the book, and your chapters are called episodes.”

The conference itself was wonderful, but of everything I learned that day, I was most impressed with Big World Network and the friends who published there. In my mind, they found a solution that most indie authors seek: an interesting way to release their books, a close-knit community of other authors who helped promote each other, and the potential to sell their work through a publishing house.

It seemed like a buffet of hope.

A few days after the conference, I e-mailed Amanda Meuwissen, a media contact at Big World Network. She answered some of my questions, but said the company was undergoing some changes. I worried that the company was shutting down, and I mourned the loss of such a remarkable idea.

Imagine my surprise when, a few weeks later, I learned that Quan and Thompson were trying to help the company transition to a non-profit group. The end goal is the same: to help authors reach their publishing goals.

“What makes me truly passionate about Big World Network is the people who I get to work with,” Thompson said. “Truly a talented bunch! My editors are amazing. Amanda Meuwissen and Willow Wood have been the best at keeping me grounded, pointing out where I’ve gotten off track, and letting me know what does and doesn’t work. My narrators have been excellent. Matt Bowerman, Heather Johns and Charles Eades are amazing vocalists who have kept up with the French, Japanese, Gaelic and smatterings of other languages I’ve thrown at them. Our layout and graphic artist, Mario Hernandez, designed my magnificent cover and did a great job laying out my book and ebook.”

As part of the the transition process, Quan and Thompson set up a GoFundMe account to help finance legal, licensing, accounting and server fees. It’s expensive. The two friends say it’s worth the time and effort they’re putting into it.

“The problem for-profit companies have is they have to be particular,” Quan said. “ You can present traditional publishers with the best written story, but if it isn’t in their genre or isn’t trendy, they have to figure out what will make them money, and there is a chance they will turn it away. A non-profit company can look past the dollar signs, see the potential and make judgment calls on the merit of the work in front of them. I have met so many authors who have amazing stories that are so well written who are frustrated because no one is picking them up. Self-publishing is a respectable option, but we want to offer something else.”

“We do have an immediate business plan and a five year plan that we are working on finalizing,” Thompson said. “I can’t say too much about either yet. I can tell you that Big World Network relied upon quality writing from writer all over the world, and we plan on continuing in that vein.”

Thompson said over 60 authors have published with Big World Network, some from as far away as Romania. Most authors wrote science fiction or fantasy, but other genres were well represented.

“Our best sellers are definitely clean romance, and our sci-fi/fantasy, as well as young adult, though we don’t specifically request any genre,” Meuwissen wrote when answering my questions. “We have published even non-fiction.”

So far, feedback has been positive.

“My favorite feedback comes in the form of questions,” Quan said, “Like, how does that work?”

Another of his favorite questions: What will keep the lights on?

“We will look to be as author-friendly as we can when it comes to contracts, and make a little on those, but the bulk of our income will be grants, sponsorships and donations,” he said.

And one more: What will your focus be?

“People and dreams,” Quan said. “We want to help you achieve your dreams.”

That’s the reason the company started in the first place. Thompson said Big World Network was founded by Jim McGovern in 2011.

“Jim loved the idea of a ‘Netflix for books’ where the author could have more say, where readers could communicate with the writers about the story, and where readers could have a preference for their format, including paperback, e-book and audio,” Thompson said.

Meuwissen said even as a for-profit company, there were no paid positions. Volunteers for marketing and publicity, editors, narrators for audio books and cover design were always welcome.

“Everything is done pro-bono currently, as volunteers, but again, we are always looking for additional help,” she said.

The company had options for revamping previously published work and had even published a few novels from minors.

As Big World Network shifts from a for-profit company to a non-profit entity, it still seems to be about hope. It’s a shared vision for authors who like the idea of serializing their work, of having another publishing option, and of a built-in marketing support from everyone involved.

“I am very passionate about Big World Network because it gave me my first real shot and entrance into the industry,” Quan said. “I am really blessed, and I want the opportunity to help people succeed and reach their dreams.”

June 9, 2016

Something Big Is Coming

Something Big is Coming--be a part of it!

Something Big is Coming–be a part of it!

I’m intrigued by the idea of serialized publishing.

Two men are trying to rescue Big World Network, an indie serialized publishing business, by turning it into a non-profit organization, and I’m just as intrigued by that.

They’ve agreed to allow me to write a post about them and what they’re doing. Be on the lookout for it sometime this weekend or early next week–and if you like the idea of keeping Big World Network alive, please take a look at their GoFundMe account: https://www.gofundme.com/27dxeth7

 

 

May 14, 2015

The Heart of All Magic is 99 cents today

'The Heart of All Magic' went live for Kindle tonight! :)

The Heart of All Magic‘ is 99 cents for Kindle today

I’m trying a Kindle count-down deal for The Heart of All Magic. This marketing tool is new to me, and I’m curious to see what an unadvertised campaign can do.

Well, it won’t be completely unadvertised. I’ll post about it on Facebook, Twitter and here on my blog.

What do other authors think of Amazon free promotions and Kindle count-down deals? Authors near me say they get mixed results, but overall, the results aren’t as incredible as they used to be.

I decided to keep this series with Amazon outlets alone.

I’m curious about branching out into other e-book platforms with other books. This would eliminate my ability to use the Kindle free promotions and countdown deals. I’m wondering whether the time spent distributing the books to other sites would balance out something like free promotions.

I would love to hear your perspectives.

 

October 18, 2014

Squirrels, apricot leather and sharing the joy of writing

 

The squirrel who ate dried apricot mush

The squirrel who ate dried apricot mush

A few years ago, my sister gave me a pair of shoes that I have absolutely loved.

She passed them on, not because they were worn out, but because she is much more fashion conscious than I am, and she knew it was time for her to try something different.

Now those shoes are about beat into the ground. The insides are falling apart and the sole is peeling off at the toes and the heels, and still I love them.

Here’s one reason why:

Two summers ago, I wore those shoes when I went to pick apricots. So many apricots had already fallen off the tree that they created slippery mushy spots on the ground. When I went home, my shoes were too yucky to take inside the house, so I set them outside in the sun to dry.

And dry they did. I had a veritable layer of apricot fruit leather baked all around the edges of my shoes.

I wore those shoes to garden in, after that, and then one day I wore them on a trip into the mountains with my mother and my children. After our picnic, I started taking photos of the scenery. My girls started laughing and pointing at my feet just as I felt something tickle the side of my right foot.

I looked down and saw a squirrel, peeling the apricot leather off my shoes.

I was reminded of this tonight in a strange way. I spent the day at a local pumpkin patch selling books with other local authors, and I thoroughly enjoyed the autumn-harvest-festival feelings that pervaded the little fair. For a moment, I felt a little bit like the squirrel–afraid of people I think are bigger than I am when it comes to writing, but so hopeful for a delicious successful-writer experience that I was willing to sneak up upon it and nibble at it.

It turned out well. I learned SOOO much from one day behind a table, and I had the opportunity to strengthen friendships with other writers and meet groups and groups of other locals. I actually sold books. Friends from my own neighborhood drove all the way to the pumpkin walk to support me. The sun was bright and cheerful, but it never got too hot, even in the late afternoon.

Marketing is a lot easier for me when I have a support group around me like that. By the end of the day, all of us were promoting each other’s books. There was a real sense of community lining our two tables. Until I returned home, I didn’t even remember that no one new entered the #burgersandbooks giveaway this week.

Now it doesn’t even matter. I plan to keep promoting books and holding give-aways, but that’s because I like them. It’s not really dependent on anyone else.

So I guess I really do feel like that squirrel. I glean happiness wherever I can find it.

Even if it’s not something I planned for.

Even if it’s not easy to access.

Even if I have to get out of my comfort zone to do it.

Overall, it was a smiley, feel-good day. Better than old shoes and apricot leather, and I plan to keep sharing the joy.

 

October 11, 2014

First winner for the #burgersandbooks #giveaway ! Prize: Beginning of a Hero, by Charles Yallowitz

Week one of the October #burgersandbooks #giveaway is down. The winner of Charles Yallowitz’s Beginning of a Hero is Kathy R. Congratulations, Kathy! I will send you your electronic copy tonight. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Beginning of a Hero, by Charles Yallowitz--book one in the Legends of  Windemere series

Beginning of a Hero, by Charles Yallowitz–book one in the Legends of Windemere series

The first time I read Beginning of a Hero I was struck with the action. The fast-paced writing drew me in, and my mind created great and immediate images around Charles’ Yallowizt’s story.

It was one of those reading escapes in which I felt like I really was inside the book—climbing the stone walls, trudging through the swamp, and going through the training exercises.

If I had to pick a favorite reason why I enjoy this book now, I would have to say it’s the characters.

Luke Callindor is strong willed and stubborn, and maybe more than a little cocky. He ran into his fair share of trouble because of that, but he handled himself well in those times of trouble. That built my confidence in him as he built his own confidence in himself. For me, that made the entire story believable.

There were some strong female characters, which I always love to see. One of my favorites is Selenia Hamilton. Her role is a supporting one, but her character is steel-strong and absolutely immovable. I liked that she was a sort of mentor to Luke Callindor and that she learned to respect him as the book progressed.

One of Charles Yallowitz’s writing strengths is his ability to write in present-tense. I haven’t read many books written this way, and he does an amazing job of it.

I recommend this book and the rest of the Legends of Windemere series to other fantasy fans.

 

September 19, 2014

Look what friends can do–thanks, everyone! #thenightones #free

Look what I woke up to this morning! :D

Look what I woke up to this morning! 😀

Yesterday 95 copies of The Night Ones were downloaded.  I woke up this morning to find The Night Ones had reached #4 in its category for free downloads on Amazon.

That felt like a lot of downloads for not actively promoting it. I only posted about it here on my blog and on Facebook. While I intend to use free e-book listing sources in the future, I’m grateful to see what just a handful of friends can do.

A big thanks to everyone here who shared the post about The Night Ones‘ free promotion or who liked it. You made my day.

 

 

September 15, 2014

The evolution of a book cover: why I will always hire a visual artist now

I think of my self-publishing experience with The Night Ones as a learning exercise and, right now, as a demonstration of why self-publishing writers most often should hire someone else to do the artwork for their book covers.

Here’s the first book cover I tried to make, on my own.

book cover possibility three point seven five

Here’s the second book cover, also made on my own.

Second book cover

Second book cover

Here’s the third, also on my own, that I made for the re-release while I waited for a final book cover. (More on that another time–the artist I hired works fast. I was waiting on other things.)

green ebook cover red print cropped resized

And, finally, here’s what artist LaRae Monroe can do.

The Night Ones has a new look!

The Night Ones has a new look!

LaRae and I had a great chat about what separates writers and visual artists. Both she and I keep notebooks. The biggest difference is what we keep in our notebooks. Mine is full of words, describing my ideas in detail. Her ideas are mapped out with pictures, more like story boards.

I’ve gained a new respect for all visual artists because of LaRae. In some ways, she can see what I write about better than I can.

If you’re intrigued by the beautiful new book cover, check out the e-book! It’ll be free on Amazon from Sepember 18-22. Also–check out the $25 Amazon gift card giveaway!

Wishing you all the best!

August 31, 2014

New drawing for $25 Amazon gift card #contest thing

Prizes for The Night ones Legacy contest

Enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card! by reviewing the Night Ones. (See below for details. 🙂

I’m so excited about this!

While I wait for the final book cover for The Night Ones, I decided to host another $25 Amazon gift card drawing. (Some of you may remember when I did this a few years ago. I’m really happy to be doing it again.)

Here are the rules:’

1. Read The Night Ones, by Gwen Bristol

2. Post a review of The Night Ones on Amazon–here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Ones-Legacy-Book-One-ebook/dp/B00N505O94/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409461305&sr=8-1&keywords=gwen+bristol+the+night+ones

3. Send me an e-mail at gwenbristol@gmail.com letting me know you posted a review. If you win the drawing at the end of the month, I’ll contact you by e-mail to get a physical address so I can send you the gift card.

Here are a few more things to consider:

1. If you read my last post, you’ll remember that The Night Ones was previously published as The Night Ones Legacy. I recently re-released it under a new name to prepare for the sequel, but if you already read The Night Ones Legacy and left an Amazon review, you have a head start. It’s the same book with some minor editorial tweaks–so just go ahead and review it again, and send me an e-mail letting me know! (Of course, I would love it if you liked the book enough to read it again anyway.)

2. If you feel this is worth sharing, please pass it around! If I get more than 50 entries, I’ll buy another gift card and host two drawings…and if I get more than 100 entries, I’ll buy another one. You get the idea.

3. You have almost all of September to post a review and e-mail me. I’ll stop receiving entries by midnight (MST) on Friday, September 26. I will notify winners on Saturday, September 27 and I will post about the results of this promotion/contest thingy then.

4. If, by my writing style tonight, you guessed I’m a bit tired, you guessed right. I may think of other things to say about this contest/promotion thingy later this week, but for now, that’s it. Go read, and review, and e-mail me, and most of all, have fun!

Wishing everyone a wonderful upcoming week!

August 14, 2013

Slow Blogging, emotions, and marketing

Best-selling writing elicits emotions strong enough to move a reader to action. Could this apply to blogs?

Best-selling writing elicits emotions strong enough to move a reader to action. Could this apply to blogs?

About four months ago, I came across an idea called slow blogging. I’ve seen it several times since then, and wondered about whether or not it’s a good idea–specifically when health, hearth and other obligations recently kept me away from my blog for more than two weeks.

As I understand it, slow blogging refers to blogging less frequently, but putting more time and thought into posts–kind of allowing them to age.

I admit, my first reaction was one of skepticism. How, exactly, are writers supposed to develop a decent platform for selling their work without gaining followers on their blogs? And how, exactly, are bloggers supposed to build their followings without writing three or four posts a day, at least?

Then I came across this guest post at ProBlogger, written by Brooke McAlary (SlowYourHome.com). This is what she had to say about it:

I’ve been writing about simple living for over two years, but it wasn’t until I started applying the elements of slow blogging that I saw vast improvement in my work, my community and my readership.

Slowing down, posting less frequently, spending more time thinking, studying and writing my posts, has ultimately led me to attract a much bigger audience. My readers now are engaged, inspired and my greatest champions, and I put much of that down to my decision to go Slow.

I’ll say that part again, because it bears repeating.

My readership has grown as I’ve posted less.

I’m giving the idea of slow blogging some serious thought now, partly because, although my readership dropped when I wasn’t posting, I kept gaining followers.

Mind you, I like getting followers, but that’s not why I blog. I blog because I’m a talk-a-holic, and I sometimes just have to get things out of my system.

I blog because I like the online community of writers, photographers and other artists–everyone has something wonderful to share. I like to be there to enjoy it all.

Also, I blog because I have a nagging need to learn, and it seems like the best way to really internalize what I’m learning is to share it with someone else. Blogging is the perfect medium for this.

I can’t say I don’t enjoy the feeling of attracting readers who think about and dream about the same things I think and dream about. I appreciate the fact that these people form part of my platform, but I really value them as a network of real-life friends that I just haven’t had the chance to meet in person yet. The really important thing about blogging, for me, is not so much the possibility of using my contacts to promote my work as the fact that my blogging friends add joy to my life.

Who doesn’t like joy?

And that brings me to my next point: my recent marketing studies have convinced me that if I really want to get the hang of writing books that sell, I need to get the hang of writing books that evoke emotions strong enough to move a reader to action.

From Dave Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines:

Do you see the relationship between reading and other forms of recreation? Here it is: when we read, we buy into a shared dream, a fiction, and by dong so we put ourselves in emotional jeopardy.

Later he wrote:

At the very heart of it, reading stories or viewing them allows us to perform an emotional exercise. And the better you as a writer are at creating fiction that meets your audience’s deepest needs, the better your work will sell.

(Read more about what I think about this book here.)

From Jonah Berger’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On:

When we care, we share.

This includes sharing things on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets.

Berger also wrote:

When trying to use emotions to drive sharing, remember to pick ones that kindle the fire: select high-arousal emotions that drive people to action.

I’m convinced that emotion-provoking writing is a must for fiction. It’s likely a must for nonfiction, as well–and maybe it’s even more important in that arena.

But how does it relate to blogging, and slow blogging in particular?

My initial thoughts are these:

  • If I’m blogging fast because I’m feeling emotional about something, that’s probably going to be apparent to my readers, and it might be okay to share that. If, however, I’m blogging fast just to blog something–anything–then I may just be blowing smoke and wasting the time of readers I respect and care about.
  • If I’m blogging slow, I have time to savor my own thoughts before I share them with others. Since I tend to be impetuous, this might save me from the embarrassment of sharing things that are too personal. It also gives me time to think about what I have to offer my online friends, hopefully protecting them from seeing careless posts they feel uninterested in but obligated to respond to.
  • The more I control my blogging, the more real writing work I do–and that’s emotionally rewarding on an entirely different level. Conversely, if I’m discouraged about something, I tend to avoid my works-in-progress (and any other uncomfortable challenge) and focus solely on my blog. I have to wonder what kinds of emotions my readers pick up from me then.

At this point, I’m not sure how seriously I take slow blogging. It may happen on my blog by default as the demands of life create new priorities. A quick note here: I refuse to get frustrated by this. 

If slow blogging becomes a bigger part of my life, it won’t be because I don’t enjoy blogging. Rather, it will mean that I’m enjoying the balance of ALL of my life–blogging included.

 

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